I’ve been absent. I’m sorry. My life has been a whirlwind of many things these past weeks and months, not the least of which was the HighEdWeb Regional Conference in Michigan. Friends, I cannot tell you how proud I am to have helped bring all that is HighEdWeb to my colleagues at home. This week on May 20 and 21, 180 higher education professionals from Michigan and beyond (thank you, Andrew Smyk of Toronto for making our conference international!) gathered in downtown Flint to talk about content, web, social media, accessibility, technology, and community.
Earlier today I read a lovely recap of the conference from Tim Nekritz, where he noted that his take-away from HighEdWeb Michigan was that “technology is nice, but collaboration is key.” Absolutely. Truly, collaboration is a driving force behind so many of our collective and individual successes. For me, the collaboration that often results from a conference like this is the biggest take-away by far. And if “collaboration” is the thing for Tim, for me it’s “conversation.”
My HighEdWeb Michigan experience began on Sunday night when the conference speakers gathered for dinner. Immediately I was immersed in stories about Vine videos, Dropbox uploads gone wrong, and video files that were encoded in mysterious ways. I knew then that—even though I wouldn’t be attending many presentations in the following days—my education had already begun.
When I look back on HighEdWeb Michigan, the memory is much like that from other conference with this amazing group of higher ed professionals I’ve found myself mixed up in. It’s all a blur of conversations that I know are just beginning. One presentation starts a debate between coworkers that results in a new project. Questions asked by audience members spark ideas for others that lead to future presentations. Research is done. Ideas are shared. Conversations begin and are moved beyond a conference facility to Twitter or some other place where many other people join in.
You know, it’s kind of magical.
One of the strongest directives during HighEdWeb Michigan came to me from Ron Bronson during “Unboxing Yourself: Reaching Out for Professional Growth.” He told the audience to find at least five new people to connect with and follow during the conference. I say this sort of thing to people all the time, but I had been so caught up in running around and moving tables or picking up evaluations (what was I doing, anyway?) that I got sidetracked. In that moment, when Ron told the audience they need to be learning from and sharing with all of the people around them, I resolved to take advantage of that opportunity myself. I did find new people to follow, many of whom are right in my own backyard.
What it comes down to is that we are our own best resources. We have to learn from each other. We have talk to each other.
Let’s keep the conversation going.
Update: Speaking of conversation, the May 23 episode of Higher Ed Live was all about HighEdWeb Michigan and offered a good summary of some of the conference’s highlights. Plus there is a dog and a cat.